The following article was released by members of the Badman Review Action Group yesterday.
Child Abusers to have greater
legal protection than ordinary
parents, Social Workers insist
Under proposed legislation, parents who abuse their children will have more rights than ordinary parents who opt to teach their children themselves.These changes will apply to all families who decide for whatever reason that their children’s educational needs are better met in the home environment EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY WELFARE OR SAFEGUARDING CONCERNS.
In evidence submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for the Children, Schools and Families bill, social workers Imran Shah and Cintha Archer stated, “As home-educating parents ourselves, we would enjoy greater legal safeguards if we were abusing our children than we would do for educating them at home. We find it perverse that Schedule 1 [of the CSF bill] will give localauthorities greater powers to act over families who are providing loving care than they have over families where children are being abused or are at risk of abuse.”
Mr. Shah and Ms. Archer enumerated their ethical and legal concerns about the proposed legislation in their submission, chief of which is the fact that, “There is no statutory requirement within the text of this Bill for local authorities to act in the child’s best interests. As experienced social workers we are alarmed at this omission, which gives administrative procedures primacy over children’s needs. Since there is no obligation on local authorities to have the best interests of the child as their central and overriding concern, the new powers will be damaging to the well-being of the child.”
Schedule 1 powers will not only remove any legal obligation the local authority has to safeguard the home educated child’s best interests, say Shah and Archer, it will also remove the rights of legal redress from home educating families. This, they maintain, will be particularly onerous for families where class, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, ethnicity or culture are a consideration. Local authorities will have no legal requirement to consider the impact of its actions on families or children for whom these factors are an issue, even though social workers and social policy makers accept that these families are the ones that fare the worst in dealing with government and its agents.
Shah and Archer insist that they are simply arguing for fairness and equality before the law. “We are not arguing for the removal of the protections that are afforded to the families who are subject to social services intervention, merely stressing that it is unjust to not extend those same protections to those families who are educating their children at home as an expression of their loving commitment to their children. Local authorities already have the powers that they need to ensure that children are safe and that their educational and other needs are being met Schedule 1 is unjust, illiberal and damaging to home-educating families and their children, and we ask for it to be removed from the CSF bill.”
The full text of Mr. Shah’s and Ms. Archer’s submission is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmpublic/childsch/memo/ucm0702.htm
Those who wish to contact either Mr. Shah or Ms. Archer for comment may leave a comment on this blog. The blog author will pass on such inquiries to BRAG.